The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
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The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
How the post-Maidan Ukrainian government has used and abused Ukrainian history:

Quote:When it comes to politics and history, an accurate memory can be a dangerous thing.

In Ukraine, as the country struggles with its identity, that’s doubly true. While Ukrainian political parties try to push the country toward Europe or Russia, a young, rising Ukrainian historian named Volodymyr Viatrovych has placed himself at the center of that fight. Advocating a nationalist, revisionist history that glorifies the country’s move to independence — and purges bloody and opportunistic chapters — Viatrovych has attempted to redraft the country’s modern history to whitewash Ukrainian nationalist groups’ involvement in the Holocaust and mass ethnic cleansing of Poles during World War II. And right now, he’s winning.

In May 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law that mandated the transfer of the country’s complete set of archives, from the “Soviet organs of repression,” such as the KGB and its decedent, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), to a government organization called the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. Run by the young scholar — and charged with “implementation of state policy in the field of restoration and preservation of national memory of the Ukrainian people” — the institute received millions of documents, including information on political dissidents, propaganda campaigns against religion, the activities of Ukrainian nationalist organizations, KGB espionage and counter-espionage activities, and criminal cases connected to the Stalinist purges. Under the archives law, one of four “memory laws” written by Viatrovych, the institute’s anodyne-sounding mandate is merely a cover to present a biased and one-sided view of modern Ukrainian history — and one that could shape the country’s path forward.

The controversy centers on a telling of World War II history that amplifies Soviet crimes and glorifies Ukrainian nationalist fighters while dismissing the vital part they played in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union. Viatrovych’s vision of history instead tells the story of partisan guerrillas who waged a brave battle for Ukrainian independence against overwhelming Soviet power. It also sends a message to those who do not identify with the country’s ethno-nationalist mythmakers — such as the many Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine who still celebrate the heroism of the Red Army during World War II — that they’re on the outside. And more pointedly, scholars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toeing the official line — or calling Viatrovych on his historical distortions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the country could be headed for a new, and frightening, era of censorship.

Although events of 75 years ago may seem like settled history, they are very much a part of the information war raging between Russia and Ukraine.

The revisionism focuses on two Ukrainian nationalist groups: the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought to establish an independent Ukraine. During the war, these groups killed tens of thousands of Jews and carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed as many as 100,000 Poles. Created in 1929 to free Ukraine from Soviet control, the OUN embraced the notion of an ethnically pure Ukrainian nation. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the OUN and its charismatic leader, Stepan Bandera, welcomed the invasion as a step toward Ukrainian independence. Its members carried out a pogrom in Lviv that killed 5,000 Jews, and OUN militias played a major role in violence against the Jewish population in western Ukraine that claimed the lives of up to 35,000 Jews.

Hitler was not interested in granting Ukraine independence, however. By 1943 the OUN violently seized control of the UPA and declared itself opposed to both the Germans, then in retreat, and the oncoming Soviets. Many UPA troops had already assisted the Nazis as Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in the extermination of hundreds and thousands of Jews in western Ukraine in 1941 and 1942, and they now became foot soldiers in another round of ethnic cleansing in western Ukraine in 1943 to 1944, this time directed primarily against Poles. When the Soviets were closing in 1944, the OUN resumed cooperation with the Germans and continued to fight the Soviets into the 1950s, before finally being crushed by the Red Army.

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2016 May 03 18:43
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W. R.
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RE: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
Quote:A Fascist Hero in Democratic Kiev

Timothy Snyder

… By conferring the highest state honor of “Hero of Ukraine” upon Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) on January 22, Viktor Yushchenko provoked protests from the chief rabbi of Ukraine, the president of Poland, and many of his own citizens. …

Born in 1909, Bandera matured at a time when the cause of national self-determination had triumphed in much of eastern Europe, but not in Ukraine. The lands of today’s Ukraine had been divided between the Russian Empire and the Habsburg monarchy when World War I began, and were divided again between the new Soviet Union and newly independent Poland when the bloodshed ceased. The Soviets defeated one Ukrainian army, the Poles another. Ukrainians thus became the largest national minority in both the Soviet Union and Poland. With time, most Ukrainian political parties in Poland reconciled themselves to Polish statehood. The Ukrainian Military Organization, however, formed of Ukrainian veterans in Poland, followed the movement that sought to change the boundaries of Europe: fascism. With Benito Mussolini, who came to power in 1922 in Italy, as their model, they mounted a number of failed assassination attempts on Polish politicians.

By the time the Ukrainian Military Organization became the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), in 1929, a younger generation was dominant. Young terrorists such as Stepan Bandera were formed not by the prewar empires, but by fascist ideology and the experience of national discrimination in Poland. In the 1920s the Polish authorities had closed Ukrainian schools and ignored Poland’s promise to provide for Ukrainian national autonomy. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, as a new Polish government sought reconciliation with its five million Ukrainian citizens, Ukrainian nationalists acted decisively to prevent any compromise settlement. Bandera was one of the main organizers of terror campaigns intended to prevent Ukrainians from accepting the Polish government by provoking Polish retaliation. The main targets of their assassination attempts were Ukrainians and Poles who wished to work together. The OUN assassinated the leading advocate of Ukrainian-Polish rapprochement, Tadeusz Holówko, in his sanatorium bed. They also sought (but failed) to kill Henryk Józewski, who was implementing a policy of national concessions to Ukrainians in Poland.

[Image: tumblr_kybhxj3qWu1qa1cnp.jpg]
Stepan Bandera on a 2009 postage stamp
commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth

Bandera and his fellow Ukrainian nationalists were aware of the far greater repressions on the Soviet side of the border, where far more Ukrainians lived; given the effectiveness of the Soviet secret police, however, they could only act within Poland. They did nevertheless react to Josif Stalin’s deliberate starvation of millions of peasants in Soviet Ukraine in 1933. Bandera was probably involved in planning the revenge assassination of a Soviet diplomat in Poland late that year. Ukrainian nationalists hoped to use the trial of the young Ukrainian who carried out the assassination as a forum to spread the news of the famine, but Polish authorities did not allow this. Ukrainian nationalists (and many other Ukrainians in Poland and elsewhere) were embittered by the failure of the west to respond to the mass death in the USSR. 1933 was also the year when Hitler took power in Germany. Bandera and other Ukrainian nationalists saw the Nazis as the only power that could destroy both of their oppressors, Poland and the Soviet Union. OUN activists were in contact with German military intelligence.

In June 1934, the OUN assassinated Bronislaw Pieracki, the Polish minister of internal affairs, when he began to negotiate with moderate Ukrainian groups in Poland. For his part in organizing the murder, Bandera was sentenced to death—commuted to life imprisonment–-in January 1936. He was released from prison when the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, and now sought to bring the OUN under his own command. Instead, it split into two factions, with Bandera commanding the more radical, known as the OUN-Bandera or OUN-B.

Bandera was active in a time and place where violence was very practicable, but where the chances that it would lead to Ukrainian national independence were minimal. His followers fell ever further into the maelstrom of violence on the eastern front, without thereby creating a Ukrainian state. The Germans did destroy Poland in 1939, as the Ukrainian nationalists had hoped; and they tried to destroy the Soviet Union in 1941. When the Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union that June, they were joined by the armies of Hungary, Romania, Italy, and Slovakia, as well as small contingents of Ukrainian volunteers associated with the OUN-B. Some of these Ukrainian nationalists helped the Germans to organize murderous pogroms of Jews. In so doing, they were advancing a German policy, but one that was consistent with their own program of ethnic purity, and their own identification of Jews with Soviet tyranny.

Ukrainian nationalist political goals, however, were not identical with Hitler’s. In June 1941, supporters of Bandera declared independence for a Ukrainian state, while promising cooperation with Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler was not interested in Ukrainian independence on these or any terms, and eventually had most of the leadership of the OUN-B arrested. Bandera himself was incarcerated in Berlin and then in the camp at Sachsenhausen. Like other east European nationalists of stature, he was being held in reserve for some future contingency when he might be useful to the Nazis.

[Image: tumblr_kybhx2Zhr61qa1cnp.jpg]
Ukrainian partisans, 1943

Bandera was still in the German camp at Sachsenhausen, and without influence, when his group took command of a partisan army in early 1943. As the tide turned against the Germans at the Battle of Stalingrad, Ukrainians who had served the Germans as auxiliary policemen left the German service and went into the forest. Among their duties as policemen had been the mass killing of west Ukrainian Jews. These Ukrainians, some of them members of the OUN-B, formed the core of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (or UPA), which declared itself against both the existing German occupation and the coming Soviet one. Two leaders of Bandera’s organization, Mykola Lebed’ and Roman Shukhevych, brought the UPA under the control of the OUN-B.

Under their command, the UPA undertook to ethnically cleanse western Ukraine of Poles in 1943 and 1944. UPA partisans murdered tens of thousands of Poles, most of them women and children. Some Jews who had taken shelter with Polish families were also killed. Poles (and a few surviving Jews) fled the countryside, controlled by the UPA, to the towns, controlled by the Germans. Those who survived formed self-defense organizations, or joined the German police (replacing the Ukrainians) or the Soviet partisans who were fighting against the UPA. In all of these conflicts Poles took revenge on Ukrainian civilians. The UPA, for that matter, probably killed as many Ukrainians as it did Poles, since it regarded people who did not adhere to its own brand of nationalism as traitors.

After the Red Army drove the Germans from Ukraine in summer 1944, the UPA engaged Soviet forces in large-scale partisan war. In late 1944 the Germans released Bandera from Sachsenhausen, and he considered returning to Ukraine. His fellow Ukrainian nationalists dissuaded him from doing so, on the ground that he was too valuable as a symbol of the struggle and should not risk his life. Meanwhile thousands of Ukrainians died fighting for independence under his name. No other underground force resisted the Soviets for as long as the UPA, or caused such losses. By the end of the 1940s, however, the Soviets prevailed, having killed more than a hundred thousand Ukrainians, and deported many more to Siberia. If Soviet counts are reliable, Ukrainian nationalists suffered more mortal casualties fighting communist rule than did the US Army in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined. (! — W. R.)

It is this legacy of sacrifice that many in western Ukraine today associate with Bandera, and do not wish to be forgotten. The UPA also fought on the Polish side of the border, resisting a Polish communist regime there that was deporting Ukrainians from their homeland. Many people who joined the UPA in both the Soviet Union and communist Poland did so after the war, in self-defense, and took no part in the earlier murder campaigns. As the Cold War began, some OUN-B members and UPA fighters were recruited by British and American intelligence, and then dropped by parachute in doomed missions across the Soviet border. Soviet and Polish communists, having consolidated their rule by the late 1940s, demonized the OUN and the Ukrainian partisans as “German-Ukrainian fascists,” a characterization accurate enough to serve as enduring and effective propaganda both within and without the Soviet Union. Bandera himself remained in Germany after the war, a leading figure in the fractious milieu of Ukrainian nationalists in Munich. He remained faithful to the idea of a fascist Ukraine until assassinated by the KGB in 1959.

Fascism never had a significant influence in eastern and central Ukraine, and was only important in west Ukrainian political life in the very special circumstances of World War II and the partisan war against Soviet power, when terrorists with underground experience enjoyed a natural advantage. Nevertheless, Bandera is associated with a certain alternative history of the country, one which is beyond the reach of Russia and the Soviet Union. Bandera was born in the Habsburg monarchy rather than the Russian Empire, and his movement arose in Poland rather than the Soviet Union. These lands only became part of the Soviet Union as a result of World War II. Ukrainian nationalists from this region believed that they were taking part in a larger European movement, and they were right. The recovery from fascist ideology in southern, central, and western Europe took place only after World War II, in circumstances of American occupation and prosperity. For many people in western Ukraine, the triumphant westward march of the Red Army through their homeland was not so much a liberation as the beginning of another occupation, Soviet after Polish and German. The UPA was the only hope for national self-defense.

… As everyone who is interested in the history of Soviet Ukraine knows… partisans fighting under Bandera’s name resisted the imposition of Stalinist rule with enormous determination. …

Consistent as the rehabilitation of Bandera might be with the ideological competition of the mid-twentieth century, it makes little ethical sense today. … Bandera opposed Stalin, but that does not mean that the two men were entirely different. In their struggle for Ukraine, we see the triumph of the principle, common to fascists and communists, that political transformation sanctifies violence. …

February 24, 2010, 2:16 pm


Banderites were tough motherfuckers, were they not? There was no Ukrainian state to mobilize Ukrainians to stand for themselves. A political organisation — the OUN — did it instead, and created an army able to fight.

Imagine the same happening today: for example, Hwhite Americans starting a guerilla war against the US government to get their own ethnostate and suffering as many casualties in the process as the US did in the Korean and Vietnam wars combined! Difficult to imagine, is it not?

[...] just as it is not left unto us to choose our ancestors, so we may not choose our nation; we can only fulfil, or not fulfil, the obligations that come from being a member of our people’.
© Dr. Jan Stankievič ‘From the History of Belarus’

[Image: now.jpg]
2017 May 07 18:14
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W. R.
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RE: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
A couple of words on the crimes against Poles. (Not to excuse them in any way. Rather to shift the blame away from the noble ideology of fascism.)

For some (unknown) reason the murders were happening in Volhynia, that's only a part of Western Ukraine. A possible explanation as to why, would be that it was a local initiative, and the order did not come from above, and probably not from Bandera, who was in Sachsenhausen at that time.

Some Ukrainian historians and the last leader of the UPA Vasyl Kuk state that the ethnic tensions between Poles and Ukrainians were so extreme, that the members of the UPA (who were locals to those parts) did no more than jumped on and rode the wave of ethnic hatred. There are even attempts to shift the blame completely to locals (like, you know, UPA knights in shining armour weren't brutes at all), which is most probably rubbish.

The bad blood between Poles and Ukrainians had had a long history. The ethnic-based atrocities (against Poles and Jews) on a large scale took place in the middle of XVII century (during the Kmelnytsky Uprising) and in the middle of XVIII century (during Koliyivshchyna).

A fragment (56:30–57:44) from Taras Shevchenko’s Haydamaky (1841) describes such a grim episode:

The stale water of the Tikych is red because of noblemen and Jews’ blood. At the river the house and the other building are burning. As if the doom is punishing the rich and the poor. In the centre of the market Zalizniak and Gonta are shouting: ‘Punish the Poles! Punish the Poles, so that they would repent’. And they are executing the children. People are moaning, crying, some are begging, some are cursing; one is praying and repenting his sins to his already dead brother. No mercy for them, they get executed ferociously. Like a grim reaper the haydamakas pay no attention to noblewomen and Jewesses’ age and beauty. The blood is flowing into the water. No cripple, no old man, no mother, no child have been spared, pleading did not help them. They all have fallen, there is not a single person alive, no nobleman, no Jew. Meanwhile the fire has got twice as big, it is now reaching the sky. And Halayda is exclaiming: ‘Punish the Poles! Punish them!’ He is slashing the dead, hanging and burning them down like a madman. ‘Give me a Pole! Give me a Jew! Not enough for me, not enough! Give me a Pole, I want them whoresons to bleed. A sea of blood! A sea is not enough…’

These are pretty fucked up traditions, if you ask me.

[...] just as it is not left unto us to choose our ancestors, so we may not choose our nation; we can only fulfil, or not fulfil, the obligations that come from being a member of our people’.
© Dr. Jan Stankievič ‘From the History of Belarus’

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2017 May 11 21:38
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Surtr Kvlt


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RE: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
Bandera did nothing wrong

2017 May 11 23:27
Nulla crux, nulla corona


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RE: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
"I'm telling you one more time - go to hell, kikes", wrote senior officer affiliated to the intelligence services
>In the latest of a series of highly public antisemitic statements by prominent figures in Ukraine, a retired Ukrainian general affiliated with the country’s intelligence services this week called for the destruction of his country’s Jewish community. In a post since deleted from Facebook, Vasily Vovk - a general who holds a senior reserve rank with the Security Service of Ukraine, the local successor to the KGB - wrote that Jews “aren't Ukrainians and I will destroy you along with [Ukrainian oligarch and Jewish lawmaker Vadim] Rabinovych. I'm telling you one more time - go to hell, zhidi [kikes], the Ukrainian people have had it to here with you.” "Ukraine must be governed by Ukrainians,” he wrote.
>Meanwhile, Ukrainian war hero-turned-lawmaker Nadiya Savchenko came under fire in March after saying during a television interview that Jews held disproportionate control over the levers of power in Ukraine. More recently, opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko was forced to apologise after being filmed laughing at an antisemitic comedy act at a gathering of her Fatherland party, and Volodymyr Viatrovych, director of the state-run Institution for National Memory accused Jewish activist Eduard Dolinsky of fabricating antisemitic incidents for money. Viatrovych is also running a public awareness campaign whitewashing the participation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a Ukrainian nationalist militia, in the Holocaust.
>In 2015 the Ukrainian parliament passed a law prohibiting the denigration of the UPA and other groups which fought for the country’s independence. Earlier this month, Ukraine made waves internationally when it announced it was opening a murder investigation into the killing of a member of UPA by a ninety four year old Jewish ex-KGB agent in the early 1950s. Ukraine has not prosecuted any of its citizens for war crimes against Jews since the country gained its independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
>Asked for comment regarding the latest incident of antisemitic rhetoric, the Ukrainian Embassy in Tel Aviv said it “regrets about the fact that General of the Security service of Ukraine left a highly provocative post of anti-Semitic character on his facebook page” but did not indicate if Vovk would be disciplined. “The Embassy of Ukraine condemns all kinds of manifestations of antisemitism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, and is convinced that there should be no place for them in modern Ukrainian society,” an embassy spokesman wrote the JC.

I stole W.R.'s translation

"The secret to happiness is freedom... And the secret to freedom is courage."

“My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Carl Schurz

"Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms."

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Thucydides
2017 May 13 19:49
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